I lived with a French family, and I was pretty much treated as an extra daughter, so I met all their friends and extended family right way - a quick way to make instant friends. I also became involved with some drama and music groups, which gave me the chance to meet like-minded people. I might have been a bit lonely to begin with, as it is difficult at first to find your feet, but there was so much to do and see that I never got bored while I was there. When I got the chance, I visited Bayonne, Val de Loire and the Aquitaine which were lovely. Try not to have any preconceived ideas before you go; be organised and plan as well as you can, but also be flexible in case things turn out differently. And try to immerse yourself in the local area as much as you can - your language will really improve and you'll feel more at home.
What a great city - loads of places to go and a really fab atmosphere. As it’s notoriously hard to make French friends, you should consider joining a club or dance studio or getting a hobby to meet people. I visited Chartres, Alençon, Marne-la-Vallée and Fontainebleau while I was there – Paris is obviously fantastically-connected when it comes to travel, so take full advantage of this opportunity! When it comes to the great uni v job debate, working really forces you to improve your language and produces the best results by far, plus it is an extra bonus for your CV – definitely something to consider.
I worked in Paris so I found it quite difficult to make friends at first, as most of the people at the office were older than me. Housing was also a pretty tricky affair, as you practically need to present your bank statements to get anywhere! Having said that, Paris is full of life and cool places to go to, particularly the Marais which has so much charm. I really learnt a lot about food whilst I was out there, and once I got past the first few important milestones (getting a flat, settling in, making some French friends), I really enjoyed my time out there. Paris is a capital city and a pretty tough one at that, so make sure you say yes to everything and you don't take it too personally if people don't smile - it's part and parcel of being a true Parisien.
Parisians aren't as bad as their reputation and are friendlier than I expected, although they are arrogant! There are loads of places to go out in Paris suiting a wide variety of tastes - live music (jazz, electro, d'n'b), clubbing, bars, cafes, museums, theatre - too much to do really! The atmosphere is out of this world - as a capital city, Paris is lively and bustling, yet peaceful and relaxing, with its river and abundance of pedestrian-friendly areas. The atmosphere changes dramatically from arrondissement (district) to arrondissement, and these are worth researching thoroughly beforehand so as to find the right corner "made for you". You should definitely choose work over university! It’s seriously good for your CV, and in my opinion offers most opportunity for linguistic improvement.
A few weeks ago, I was teaching a class about the delights (or lack of them) of English cuisine, this then led to a discussion on different types of gastronomy, Chinese, Italian, Thai. To finish the lesson I asked them, 'if I gave you a hundred euros and the choice to go to ANY restaurant in the whole of Paris, what type of cuisine would you choose?' To my surprise, 90% of them said French.